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Bold Standard: Idaho Unveils First-in-the-Nation Doctorate in Athletic Training

Students study athletic training

Movement science is taking a big step forward with the creation of a doctoral program in athletic training at the University of Idaho. The groundbreaking program – the first of its kind in the nation – starts in summer 2011, thanks to approval received from the Idaho State Board of Education.

The two-year program is designed for working professionals. It combines academic experience with hands-on experience during residency programs.

“We feel strongly that this is where the future of our profession is heading,” says Alan Nasypany, athletic training education program director. “It’s very attractive to athletic trainers who want to improve their clinical practice and achieve the highest clinical degree in the field.”

The University’s undergraduate athletic training program has been recognized as an important and growing major for students. Kathy Browder, College of Education associate dean and movement sciences department head, says the college looked at the program and realized its potential.

“We knew this was a great program, one that we could grow,” says Browder. “We saw a lot of potential for synergy across the university and decided we needed to invest more resources into the program.”

A partnership with the Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho medical education program was formed to provide the athletic training program with another faculty member. Nasypany and movement sciences associate professor Jeff Seegmiller led the charge to create this first athletic training advanced clinical doctorate. They also hope to add an entry-level master’s program for athletic training, which is currently under review by the State Board of Education.

“When we knew there was an opportunity to lead the nation in advanced clinical doctorates for athletic trainers, we began laying out the blueprints for what it would look like,” says Seegmiller. “The result is a model that has potential to enhance healthcare for patients facing the burdens of musculoskeletal disease.”

Those blueprints came from examining the University’s athletic training program and the athletic training profession. Realizing the potential, Nasypany and Seegmiller broke new ground that will enhance student leadership and carry the profession and University well into the future.

After looking at the self-support model utilized for the University’s Executive MBA program, in its College of Business and Economics, Browder said the department modified the model for athletic training.

Students will spend two four-week summer sessions at the University of Idaho over two years working on research and academics. They complete the rest of their training on location with an approved mentor doing clinical residencies and through distance education.

“It’s very attractive to athletic trainers who want to improve their clinical practice and achieve the highest clinical degree in the field,” says Nasypany.

At the 2011 Athletic Training Educators’ Conference in Washington, D.C., Nasypany and Seegmiller put program fliers in the conference packets and it garnered a lot of attention. Many educators feel, as a master’s degree becomes entry level for athletic trainers, more doctoral programs will be needed.

“This program has been extensively reviewed by multiple parties across the University of Idaho and nationally,” says College of Education Dean Corinne Mantle-Bromley. “We appreciate each of these groups’ feedback as the proposal got stronger and stronger.  We are convinced that we have a program that will make the University and the state proud and look forward to welcoming the first cohort of doctoral students to our new program.”

A handful of students will form the program’s inaugural cohort, with classes starting this summer. The application deadline for this year is May 15. A fuller cohort will start with the program in the summer of 2012. The program cost is estimated at $16,000.

For more information on the program: http://www.uidaho.edu/athletictrainingprogram